After a rancher told the Otero County, Colo., sheriff his 13-year-old son was shot at while checking cattle in a pasture, authorities initiated an investigation that has uncovered dozens of illegal marijuana cultivation plots in southeastern Colorado.
A statement from the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office this week says more than 40 illicit pot cultivations have been destroyed this summer with a value at nearly $6 million. The statement warns that more raids will follow. Las Animas County borders Otero County.
The announcement from the LACSO said the Otero County rancher believed his son had stumbled upon an illegal marijuana grow when he was shot at. That prompted the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's Black Market Marijuana Team to launch its investigation.
"Two sites were located that investigators believed were used to cultivate illegal marijuana in the eastern part of Las Animas County, in the Las Animas Ranch’s Subdivision," the report reads, adding that 486 marijuana plants and six firearms were seized. Four suspects were arrested in connection with the two grows.
LACSO says that 5,000 to 15,000 additional plants worth an estimated $5 million were found at more grow sites in the area. However, the LACSO report also notes that officials halted the raids after discovering a toxic pesticide, Carbofuron, had been sprayed on the plants. "Officials are currently working with environmental specialists to safely remove and eradicate these grow sites and remaining chemicals," the report reads.
Law enforcement officials also located and destroyed around 120 marijuana plants from a separate illegal grow site in the Fishers Peak Ranches subdivision of Las Animas County during the summer, and are "currently working to investigate and eradicate" a handful of other grows, according to LACSO.